editorial 

It’s still four months away, but if I were to pick one issue that will dominate November’s municipal election it would be the ceiling on development and housing for locals. I count that as one issue, although it could be argued they are two related issues. The last substantial block of development rights rests with Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, which has some 2,000-odd bed units. Those bed units are, uniquely, transferable. That is, Whistler Mountain could use them to develop its land at Whistler Creek, its land in the Function Junction area or could sell them off to other land holders. There are other developers and land owners who have bed units they haven’t developed — Park Georgia on the Whistler Racquet and Golf Resort property, Intrawest has some land left on the Benchlands, there are a couple of parcels that have been sold but remain undeveloped in the village and there are a couple of condo and lodge projects throughout the valley. There are a number of large parcels of privately owned land that don’t have bed units, beyond what is allowed in the most basic RR1 zoning. The present council has said it isn’t handing out any more bed units — unless they are for projects that are 100 per cent employee housing. On the other side Whistler’s already heated real estate market is getting down right toasty. The demand for homes under $300,000 has skyrocketed, but there aren’t many of them being built. Public opinion, based on last fall’s town hall meeting, is against lifting the ceiling on commercial development. Most people seem to think limiting Whistler’s size is a good idea. But as buildout grows nearer and the demand for resident housing increases, the pressure from developers and private land owners to grant just a few more bed units for a commercial development, in exchange for some resident housing, is going to increase. It’s going to require a nimble council to resist the demands for further commercial development, build more affordable housing and create a sustainable economy based on very little growth.

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